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Recommended Horse Books

Published: 2/24/2009
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By Maddy Butcher

When you have no power or Internet, thank goodness there are still books. Heck, when you DO have power and Internet, thank goodness there are still books.

Here's a few suggestions, given with the understanding that books are like movies. The minute someone gushes, “you will just love this!” I'm convinced I'll hate it.

What makes me think you, Dear Reader, will enjoy the books I cherish? Maybe dumb luck. Or perhaps our mutual love and appreciation for those sweet hay burners out there in our barns.

 Here are a few favorites. Sure, I read non-horse books. But you can’t smell the barn in them. Read these below and you certainly will!

[Feel free to submit your suggestions via the comment option on the top of the page.]

Seabiscuit, An American Legend
By Laura Hillenbrand

My favorite chapters are about Seabiscuit’s trainer, Tom Smith, and his keen observations and unconventional methods. He was a horse whisperer before they even coined that term.

Black Beauty
By Anna Sewall
The classic story of the brave horse in mid-19th century England. From the horse's perspective, it's a wonderful read for adults and children alike. Check out this edition, Penguin's Deluxe version with a forward by contemporary author, Jane Smiley and a fabulous new cover by artist Jillian Tamaki.

Lord of Misrule
By Jaime Gordan

Winner of the National Book Award
The author worked at small-time racetracks and has captured lovely, quiet elements of the horse world.
Here, Gordan gives voice to a character named Medicine Ed, an elderly black groom at the fictional Indian Mound track in West Virginia.
Medicine Ed says, when he muses about bandaging techniques:
“Horseracing is not no science. Some of em tries to make it a science, with the drugs and the chemicals and that, but ma’
fact it’s more like a religion. It’s a clouded thing. You can’t see through it. It come down to a person’s beliefs. One person believe this and the other person believe that. It’s like the National Baptists bandage and the Southern Baptists use liniment, you see what I’m trying to say? Nobody exactly know.”
Ain’t that the truth?

Where Rivers Change Direction
By Mark Spragg

mark spraggSpragg is to writing what quiet cowboys are to horsemanship. His writing is strong and sparse, tough and sensitive. Nothing flowery here. Spragg writes about working on his father’s ranch and learning about horses from the ground up. Incredible anecdotes of backcountry experiences.

The Faraway Horses
By Buck Brannaman with William Reynolds

Another memoir. Plenty of painful lessons – on both the human and horsemanship fronts. He may not buck brannamanwrite as well as Spragg, but the anecdotes are equally endearing. This is a wonderful book for reading about the evolution and learning process of a horse trainer.

Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals
By Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

I am just starting to read this one. There is a chapter on horses. But really, any book with a fresh perspective on the connections between animals and humans is worth a look.
Grandin is autistic. And after reading “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” temple grandinby Mark Haddon (Told you I read non-horse books!) I realized how our interpretations of animal welfare can be narrowed by so many factors: our background, our brain functions, our educations, etc.


Please Consider:

A Rider's Reader: Exploring Horse Sense, Science & Sentiment
By Maddy Butcher Gray

Check it out here

View Reader Comments:

add your comment
2/27/2009 Mary Ellen
Nice list, Maddy! The last entry, "Animals Make us Human", looks like exceptionally interesting reading. (I liked "The Curious Incident..." too.)
4/1/2011 Leisha
I am not an avid reader, however, a while back one of the girls gave me "Chosen by a horse" by Susan Richards.....ahhhhh, an emotional story of one woman's bond with her rescued mare...moving stuff!
11/6/2012 Kelly
Chosen by a Horse by Susan Richards, one of the best books I have ever read.
11/6/2012 Maddy at Nickernews
Thanks, ladies for your Chosen By A Horse suggestions. I'll add it to the list

"Nothing on four legs is quicker than a horse heading back to the barn" - Pamela C. Biddle/Joel E. Fishman